Doctor nearly faced homicide charges following opiod deaths
Following the arrest of many doctors across the nation earlier this year, one Tennessee doctor almost faced homicide charges.
Just over two weeks ago, a total of over 30 doctors from Tennessee and over 60 nationwide were arrested for inappropriately prescribing their patients with opiods. Investigations revealed that there was no medical reasoning behind doctors prescribing these pills.
One of these doctors from Tennessee happens to be Dr. Darrel Rinehart, 63, who was arrested on federal drug charges. Before Tennessee law enforcement passed the investigation over to federal prosecutors, Rinehart was close to getting charged with reckless homicide charges.
The reasoning for the pursuit against Rinehart? He had a total of five patient overdoses in less than a year. All of which were either prescribed incorrectly or recklessly.
Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper revealed that his office was just about ready to present a grand jury with five charges of reckless homicide against Rinehart. Although they were ready to do this, Cooper gave the case to federal prosecutors. He did this because federal drug crimes would be easier to prove and carry much harder punishments.
“A reckless homicide prosecution in state court would not be an easy case to win,” said Cooper.
“People in this area hold doctors in very high esteem,” Cooper said. “I think convincing 12 citizens beyond a reasonable doubt that what Dr. Rinehart did amounts to reckless homicide would have some difficulties. But I don’t think it would be impossible, and we were certainly going to try if the federal authorities had not reached out to us first.”
Details of Rinehart’s crimes
Back in 2016, Rinehart was caught prescribing Adderall to a patient who didn’t need it on an undercover video. This is only a small piece of what he was arrested for though.
As mentioned before, a total of five of his patients were confirmed to have overdosed and died between March 2015 and January 2016. In addition, health officials had also been suspicious of two other deaths that occurred. They were both patients of Rinehart and on medication prescribed by him.
Between 2014 and 2016, Rinehart had a total of six more patients suffer from non-fatal overdoses. One of these patients was reported to have overdosed three separate times.
Despite of Rinehart seeing obvious red flags from his patients, he continued to give them insane prescriptions just a few days before they died.
Cooper said that even though he was almost done with his investigation into Rinehart, he still decided to hand the case over to federal prosecutors after they contacted him.
“After discussing it with them, we realized the federal charges they could potentially charge Dr. Rinehart with carried a much longer sentence than reckless homicide on the state level.” said Cooper.